Winter begins

We woke to snow this morning. It was predicted. Our weather forecasts have been fairly accurate in recent years. The one thing that does not seem to have happened is the high winds that were to accompany the snow. It was windy yesterday before the snow arrived, but overnight the winds settled down a bit. Still, it is going to take a while to dig out and get ready for the day’s work. In the meantime, things will be going slowly. The schools in our town will be opening two hours late, and I suspect a lot of other things will take a while to get going. We’re in pretty good shape to handle a bit of snow, but the first significant snowfall of the year always is a bit more awkward than subsequent events because of little things like the simple fact that my lawn mower is in the way of my snow blower and I have to get things in the shed moved around before I can settle in to work. Lots of other folks are in similar situations.

We were remembering my father in law yesterday as we were talking about the approaching storm. He used to say that if you are going to live where there is harsh weather, blizzards are much preferable to tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and other big storms because blizzards stay outside, for the most part. There are weather events that destroy human shelters, but with the exception of an occasional tree falling on a roof, blizzards generally don’t cause structural damage to homes. He had a point. We are warm and secure in our home, which is filled with groceries and supplies, and we won’t be suffering. Furthermore this storm isn’t big enough to keep us cooped up inside for any amount of time. We’ll be operating in our normal routine today.

Our weather is nothing compared to what is happening in Japan, where they are bracing for the impact of a major typhoon. Typhoon Hagibis is heading right for Tokyo and is expected to cause major damage in Tokyo and surrounding areas. It is the largest hurricane of the year and its timing brings the storm right into the middle of the rugby World Cup tournament. The match between England and France scheduled for Saturday has already been called off. The competition between Scotland and Japan on Sunday is still planned, but organizers are keeping an eye on the storm’s track and impact.

The rugby World Cup is a big deal in Japan. When we visited in August, there were plenty of signs of the excitement about the event being hosted in Japan. Up at the northern end of the island in Aomori, where we attended the Nubuta festival, there was a float in the parade advertising the coming of the Rugby world cup. The trains were advertising travel packages for fans to go to Tokyo to attend matches. So having the typhoon come in the middle of the competition is a major disruption.

The Japanese islands are in a position to be hammered by many different natural forces. They are exposed to typhoons and other major storms rising from the open ocean. The islands are in the ring of fire where intense volcanic activity and earthquakes are common. Earthquakes can cause tsunami waves that wreak havoc as was demonstrated in the 2011 Took earthquake and tsunami when more than 15,000 people died across the pacific rim and the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant complex suffered explosions and a failure of the cooling system that resulted in meltdowns of reactors. The event has been called the costliest natural disaster in history.

Compared to that event, Typhoon Hagibis will be a minor event. But if you are a rugby fan, it can be a big deal. In the Rugby world cup a cancelled match results in both teams being awarded two points as part of a 0-0 draw. That can result in a team whose match was cancelled advancing ahead of one who competed but lost. The hurricane is literally a player in the matches that affects how points are awarded.

I, however, am not a rugby fan. I haven’t been following the teams. I don’t know if the advantage falls to England or to France because of the cancelled match. I don’t know what will be the result if they have to cancel the match between Scotland and Japan. My interest in the storm is focused on the people who might suffer as the result of the high winds and torrential rain. Japan is prone to mudslides and big storms usually result in the disruption of transportation around the island. People can be injured and killed in major storms. A few upset rugby fans is not a very big deal in the life and death decisions that are being made as the island braces for the impact.

I think that there is some potential pun or other humor in the possibility of Scotland having a match cancelled due to a typhoon named Hagibis and its impact on those who eat haggis, but that kind of humor may not work in Japanese or even with a Scottish brogue.

At any rate, a little snow, even if it is a bit of a disruption, isn’t much of a problem when compared to the weather endured by people living in more vulnerable parts of the world. We are used to snow. We have the tools to deal with it, even if they are a bit rusty after a summer of not having to worry about such things. After all is is October and we do live in South Dakota. This storm is nothing compared to the 2013 storm called Altas, that resulted in feet of snow falling during the first week of October and the loss of hundreds of cattle, thousands of trees and drifts of snow that were six feet deep in parts of the hills.

After all, this storm has been polite enough to stay outdoors.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!